I was so looking forward to this.
The special 30th anniversary showing of my favorite movie of all time occurred today thanks to Fathom Events. EYG Hall of Fame movie The Princess Bride is the answer I give whenever someone asks me what my favorite movie is. And I got to see it again today on the big screen.
Let’s get this out of the way first. This movie is…
Paragon being the highest rating I can give, of course, if anyone doubted it.
The Fathom Event showing of The Princess Bride added a neat little interview with director Rob Reiner, by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, giving us inside stories both before the movie started and after it finished. It added a wonderful bookend to the film told in that special way that only Rob Reiner can do.
The film itself is a masterpiece. Adapted from a novel by William Goldman, The Princess Bride is the love story between Buttercup (Robin Wright) and farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes). After being separated and having Westley supposedly murdered by pirates, Buttercup swears to never love again. So when Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) came calling, the beautiful young girl just heads through the motions. However, Humperdinck had dastardly plans that included starting a war with the neighboring kingdom of Gilder. In order to start this war, Humperdinck hired Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Inigo (Mandy Patinkin) and Fezzik (Andre the Giant) to kidnap Buttercup. To the trios chagrin, the Dread Pirate Roberts shows up to throw a monkey wrench into their plans.
The film narrates this story as if a grandfather (Peter Falk) is reading this story to his ailing grandson (Fred Savage) in the most charming of relationships.
This film has more quotable lines than most movies have even memorable ones. Every few minutes there are iconic lines that the entire theater knows. Despite that, everyone still laughs at them. From every “Inconceivable” to “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…” The Princess Bride is laced with wonderful dialogue and storytelling.
The performances are all top notch. Elwes and Wright are as believably charming and loving as you will ever see on screen. Mandy Patinkin and his foil, Count Rugan (Christopher Guest) really bring a powerful emotion to their scenes. Andre the Giant is remarkable throughout, despite his heavy accent causing some issues with comprehension. Wallace Shawn, who was reportedly afraid that he was going to be fired and replaced with the film’s first choice Danny DeVito, delivers an absolutely iconic performance that could never be topped no matter whom they may try to hire.
The comedy works today as well as it did back in the 1980s. The story is timeless. True love is always a great hook for a fairy tale, and The Princess Bride is one of the best original fairy tales to every make it to the big screen.
Scene stealers Billy Crystal and Carol Kane appeared late in the film as Miracle Max and his wife Valerie, but they are perhaps some of the most memorable moments of the entire film. Crystal reportedly was so funny with his improvisation on his lines that Rob Reiner had to leave the set to keep from laughing.
You cannot pick just one moment from this brilliant film. I personally love the Cliff of Insanity fencing duel between Inigo and Westley. There is the Shrieking Eels. Miracle Max. Fezzik jogging the memory of the Albino (Mel Smith). The Impressive Clergyman (Peter Cook) and his “Mawwage is what bwings us togeva today” line. To the pain.
And the remarkably emotional and powerful final confrontation with Inigo and Count Rugan. That moment is a sure fire crowd please and never fails to give me goose bumps.
Some of the effects may not be as up to date as we get today, but I would argue that the effects here add to the fairy tale aspect of the film and only make it more charming. Seeing men in their R.O.U.S. (rodents of unusual size) outfits crawling around the Fire Swamp is so much more preferable to the overuse of CGI in today’s world. I also find it unbelievably fun when I see Inigo’s wet hair, after Fezzik sobers Inigo up by dumping his head over and over into water, change location on the Spaniard’s face. Little things like that make this so much more engaging and adds to its charm.
I keep using that word. Charm (not inconceivable). That is the best way I can describe this classic. It is a film that I can practically recite every line word for word, and yet I can watch and be utterly enthralled with every beat. I love many of Rob Reiner’s early films, but The Princess Bride is in a league of it own.
As you wish.